Polaroid P2 Player speaker review: A funky new idea

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When Polaroid announced it was getting into speakers it came as a pretty major surprise - the iconic camera brand says it's leveraging its cultural ethos naturally, but we still think few people would have seen this coming.

There are four Polaroid Players on the market, and we've been testing out the P2 Player, the second-smallest of the set but potentially the most user-friendly in terms of size and ease of use (if we're speculating). Here's how this funky little Bluetooth speaker holds up.

Check out our list of the best Bluetooth speakers if you're interested in some alternative options.

Design

  • Available in blue, white, red, yellow and black
  • Weighs 660g
  • 220 x 90 x 50mm, with 20mm LED display

The P2 Player is a funky little bit of kit, and we're sure that there will be some out there who think it looks a little freaky, but we're pretty taken with its smart retro styling. The yellow version we've been using has all the ingredients to look, well ugly, but it just comes together so nicely.

The contrast of the speaker grilles with the white of the speaker's front, the gentle Polaroid branding and the rainbow stripe above the LED display, and the contrasting red power button all offer throwbacks to Polaroid's iconic camera designs in a way that we really appreciate.

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Plus, frankly, we review enough grey and generic speakers (for all that we can welcome some stealthiness) that something a bit different comes as quite a nice change.

There's an included wrist strap to let you carry the P2 Player that way, although its size and weight mean that Polaroid calling it "wearable" feels a bit hilarious. 660g isn't anything egregious, to be clear, but it's heavy enough to feel substantial.

We really like the analogue volume dial on top of the speaker, too, while other controls let you access favourites and skip tracks, which is always handy. On one of its thin ends, meanwhile, there's a rubber flap hiding a USB-C charging port and 3.5mm jack.

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The display, meanwhile, is a nice little addition that lets you know what volume level you're on, tells you what song you're listening to as it starts or ends, and generally offers some extra information - it's all very minimalistic, though.

The speaker stands on a rubber foot that anchors it well, but one sore spot is the lack of apparent weatherproofing - for a Bluetooth speaker that pitches itself at young, outgoing types, this is a bit of a miss if you're hoping to use it in the park, garden or anywhere else where rain might threaten things.

Sound quality

  • 165Hz-20KHz frequency response
  • Bluetooth 5.0

For a first-time effort, there's some credit in the sound quality that Polaroid has managed to get from the P2 Player - its sound doesn't too massively lag behind comparably-priced speakers from more established brands or the likes of Amazon.

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However, we're not allocating points for effort, and the fact is that the P2 player simply doesn't have the sound quality we would want. In particular, its bass and detail are both lacking.

This manifests in ways that are quite obvious - songs don't have the depth that you'd expect, with a low end that is simply a bit muted and undercooked. It also misses out on high-end detail, which can keep lyrics a little weak as well.

That's not a great pair of foibles, to be honest, but it's probably fair to balance it with the fact that you can still have a very creditable time using the speaker as a casual-listening companion. Working with it on in the background is perfectly pleasant - it's just when it's the centrepiece of your listening that the cracks show through.

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When you start to really push the P2 Player, though, it can come up a little short of where we'd want things to be. On the one hand, it can crank to a seriously high volume, making it ideal for those who want to fill a room.

However, louder volumes do also highlight some distortion that can make things a tiny bit crackly or indistinct - all of this at volumes we wouldn't really consistently use, but something to note nonetheless.

Features and battery life

  • 15-hour battery life, four-hour charging time
  • Polaroid Music app offers playlists

Polaroid isn't just chucking out some speakers, but also a whole attached (thankfully free) service it's calling Polaroid Music, which is somewhat integrated into the speaker. Connecting it via the Polaroid Music app gives you access to a series of stations featuring pre-selected playlists of songs to fit a few moods.

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This is a nice idea, and the playlists (because that's what they really are) are pretty nice too, albeit nothing you can't get from the likes of Spotify or Apple Music already.

On the player itself, a like button lets you grade songs as you listen in case anything catches your ear, and you can swap between the stations easily using shortcuts. This is all quaint and pleasant, but we're not certain that many of the speaker's users will actually engage with it very deeply.

Whether it thrives or disappears in six months is another open question, but there's no value taken away here and it's a perfectly noble attempt to help you find new music.

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The app can let you adjust the player's display brightness and system sounds, but nothing else, so there's no EQ support here to let you adjust the sound levels (which could be huge given their spotty performance). You can integrate Apple Music into it, but not Spotify, which also feels like a bit of an own goal.

The speaker's battery life, meanwhile, stands at a pretty solid 15 hours, neither exceptional nor embarrassing from our perspective. A charging time of four hours is a little disappointing, but similarly nothing out of the ordinary.

Beyond that there aren't too many additional features to recount - a 3.5mm jack means wired audio is a fallback option, and there's an NFC panel for quick phone pairing, not that we'd miss this hugely in its absence.

Original Article